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With one in three women experiencing bladder leaks*, or urinary incontinence, many women are at risk of experiencing functional incontinence in their lifetime.
When a mental or physical impairment prevents a person from reaching the toilet in time to urinate, the experience is knowns as functional incontinence. This may be temporary or more long-term, depending on factors causing functional incontinence. With the right treatment plan and the adaptation of various preventative measures, functional incontinence can be managed and improved.
To better understand how to treat functional urinary incontinence, it’s important to pinpoint what is causing it. Possible causes of this type of bladder leakage include:
Environmental barriers that prevent easy access to the bathroom
Cognitive issues such as dementia
Neurological or muscular limitations such as arthritis or post-operative status
Functional incontinence looks different for everyone. Age is a common risk factor for functional incontinence because age increases the risk of developing conditions that can affect the physical ability to get to the bathroom.
If you’re struggling with mobility, you might also experience functional incontinence. Cognitive issues might lead to confusion regarding where the bathroom is, resulting in bladder leaks. Taking the time pinpoint the cause of functional incontinence is a great starting point in managing your bladder leaks.
If you believe you are experiencing functional incontinence, seek medical advice and undergo an evaluation to receive an official diagnosis. Your doctor will want to evaluate a variety of factors to determine that you are dealing with functional incontinence, including:
Once diagnosed, you and your doctor can create a plan to manage incontinence without worry of bladder leaks holding you back.
Your plan could include:
Symptom Management: Functional urinary incontinence can often be treated through symptom management, which means identifying the best way to manage the underlying conditions. If your functional incontinence is caused by a long-term condition, working on symptom management is a great way to find relief.
Lifestyle Changes: Incorporating lifestyle changes into your daily life can help prevent bladder leaks from affecting your day-to-day life:
Pelvic Floor Health: Consult a pelvic health physical therapist to learn more about bladder control and strengthening your pelvic floor to manage functional incontinence. Pelvic floor physical therapy uses techniques to restore bladder function, reduce pain and improve coordination and strength of the pelvic floor. This can have a positive impact on urge control and frequency of urination.
Talk with your doctor about the best course for you to manage functional urinary incontinence. Monitor your triggers to start facing it head-on so you can live without worrying about bladder leaks. Finding the right products to manage it – such as Poise® Ultra Thin Pads with Wings, which keeps you up to 100% clean, dry, fresh protection from bladder leaks – will help you live your life without compromise.
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Author Summary: Dr. Heather Jeffcoat,DPT, Pelvic Health Physical Therapist is the founder of Fusion Wellness & Femina Physical Therapy(FeminaPT.com).Her work focuses on pelvic and sexual health education for all, and she lectures internationally on Female Sexual Dysfunction and chronic pelvic pain. She is also the author of Sex Without Pain: A Self Treatment Guide to the Sex Life You Deserve.
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